Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX, USA) have used a 3-D high speed imaging system to study how changes in the marine environment affect the movement of marine copepods.
Copepods are tiny crustaceans found in nearly every aquatic environment on Earth. By some estimates, they are the most abundant animals on the planet.
Environmental changes that affect copepods include changes in water temperature and viscosity associated with climate change, and increases in water viscosity related to pollution and coastal algal blooms.
To study how their swimming technique was affected by those changes, the researchers used a high-speed digital 3-D holography techniques developed by mechanical engineer Jian Sheng at Texas Tech University. The technique uses a microscope outfitted with a laser and a high-speed digital camera to catch the rapid movements of the microscopic animals moving in and out of focus in a 3-D volume of liquid.
Their research revealed that to escape from predators in cold, viscous water, marine copepods switch from a wave-like swimming stroke to big power strokes. Their change in stroke in cold water helps them escape a slew of predators, from larval fish to crabs, oysters and jellyfish.
Ed Buskey, a professor of marine science at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, says that understanding how the microscopic organisms respond to changes in the environment is important for assessing the health of oceans now and in the future.
More information can be found here.
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-- Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design